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North Carolina may have a reputation as the IBM of college
basketball -- the buttoned-down Big Blue of the hoops scene -- but
there is one Tar Heel free spirit who is excited about going to
Seattle for reasons other than playing in the Final Four. Junior
forward Dante Calabria, a major Pearl Jam fan, can't wait to visit
the home of the grunge-rock movement.

``I'm into the alternative style,'' says Calabria. ``I hope Pearl
Jam comes to see us play.''

Even if his musical idols did show up, Calabria probably wouldn't
get the attention that more-heralded teammates Jerry Stackhouse
and Rasheed Wallace do. But his outside shooting may prove to be
just as vital to the Tar Heels' title hopes. At 6'4" and 186
pounds, Calabria is about as small as a small forward gets at the
college game's uppermost level. But he creates trouble for taller
players by going outside, where he hits 52.4% of his three-point
shots, putting him second in the nation in that department.

A native of Beaver Falls, Pa., the town that gave the world
quarterback Joe Namath, Calabria was a quarterback, too, until he
gave up the game after the ninth grade. ``I loved to get hit,'' he
says. ``Other guys liked to juke around, but I tried to run over
guys.'' That's sort of the way he plays hoops, too. He leads the
Heels in such dirty-work tasks as diving for loose balls and
taking charges. ``Dante is a tough kid who does all the little
things that don't show up on a stat sheet,'' says guard Donald

Off the court Calabria often sports an earring, and when the
season is over he gets the chance (literally) to let his hair
down. Last summer he was spotted wearing a very un-Carolinalike do
rag and, even worse, playing pickup games on the Duke campus. He
caught a lot of flak when a local TV station ran videotape of that
double sacrilege. The chastened Calabria then spruced up his act
and reported clean shaven for fall practice. But after the
team's trip to Seattle he says he wants to get a tattoo, and he
plans to have his wavy hair braided. That would explain why he
declined to join starters Stackhouse and Williams when they had
their heads shaved before the NCAA tournament began. ``You can't
get your hair braided if you're bald,'' said Calabria, his logic
as impeccable as his, uh, heady play.

All of those fashion statements contribute to Calabria's own
grunge movement in Chapel Hill. Most of the time he can be found
wearing his favorite denim shorts -- the ones with the
ever-widening hole on one side -- yet he still feels at home,
oddly enough, in a conservative program where conformity is a way
of life.

But there's still nothing he would like more than to meet Eddie
Vedder, the lead singer for Pearl Jam, a band so into hoops that
it originally went by the name Mookie Blaylock, a homage to the
Atlanta Hawks' point guard. Rock lore even has it that the title
of the group's album Ten refers to the jersey number Blaylock

``Maybe they could name their next CD 24,'' says Calabria, who
wears that number for the Heels. ``That would be cool.''

--William F. Reed

COLOR PHOTO:JOHN BIEVERThe Heels' free-spirited forward is ready to rock and roll in Seattle. [Dante Calabria in air with basketball during game]